As the FPS genre has become ever more bombastic, finely led, and akin to the brainless Hollywood action flick, the more strategically minded gamer has had slim pickings for their fun filled gaming time. As glorious as the likes of Medal of Honor and Black Ops are, sometimes we crave something that requires a little more tactical thinking than simply when to hunker down behind cover, and when to blast off a few swift headshots.
After starting life on the PC, the Operation Flashpoint franchise is now thoroughly ingrained upon the minds of console owners too. 2009′s Dragon Rising was an entertaining enough experience, but the huge distance between mid-mission checkpoints even on the lowest of difficulty settings still confused and frustrated those brought up on the Call of Duty series.
Red River aims to maintain its strategic and slower paced leanings, but wrap everything up in a much more palatable and entertaining way. And it’s to the developer’s huge credit that it actually works, for the most part anyway.
The modern day tale of terrorism is displayed in a fashion both entertaining, and informative. It makes the whole story slightly more light hearted than it possibly should, but that doesn’t prevent it from being tremendously hard hitting too.
Red River includes the most swear ridden script probably witnessed in any game full-stop. Your squad mate’s chatter is constantly strewn with constant f-bombs, so this is certainly one to play with the headphones plugged firmly in unless you want the rest of the household to wonder what filth you’re perusing. That said, it doesn’t prevent the whole thing from feeling as if it’s had some real care and attention levelled upon it. It’s a cut above the standard gaming fare that’s for certain. It gives the characters you’ll spend the entire game alongside unique personalities, even if some of their mutterings won’t necessarily share your own personal world view.
Once out in the field and taking on these nasty terrorists, this is a world away from the likes of Call of Duty: Black Ops. As you’ve a team fighting alongside you, you’re able to control their focus via a nifty – and incredibly deep – number of options. Want them to swiftly clear a building? Then a few button prods is all it’ll take to set them on their way. And thanks to the surprisingly smart AI, they’ll usually do it well. Yes they’ll have their odd moments where path finding isn’t working quite as it should, but for the most part they’ll act intelligently, and as if they’re eager to keep their head firmly intact.
The only problem is that they do have a tendency to rely a little too strongly on your lead. Many a time we progressed forward, only to realise that we were heading along solo, since we’d left our squad mates hunkered down behind a wall keeping an eye out for enemies 200 yards back. Some will enjoy the micromanagement, others may find it takes up all of their thinking time.
Thankfully there’s always the option of these AI team mates becoming a little more human. Thanks to the included co-op, all of the campaign can be played with some fellow human gamers alongside you. If you can get a team of like minded chums all mic’d up, then this is where the real joys of Red River will be found. Though the single-player campaign is enjoyable, it’s another step upwards when you’ve got some human friends blasting away alongside you.
The campaign too offers a fair amount of variety, and a surprisingly lengthy total game time. We managed to get all the way through in around about 10-12 hours. So if you fancy taking on the various missions in both single and co-op modes, you’ve got yourselves a good few weeks worth of gaming action all ready and raring to go.
This being an Operation Flashpoint title, you’re player character is certainly no bullet sponge. Get hit in the head, and its goodnight. Other shots require reviving, and a quick patch up before you can continue. It certainly keeps you moving a little slower than the head first rushes forward seen in most modern FPS titles, and you’ll constantly be scouting ahead for potential ambushes. With the higher difficulty settings giving you particularly few and even no mid-mission checkpoints or even any semblance of HUD, one wrong move and it can be right back to the very beginning for you.
If you’re happy with a slower paced and more tactical squad based shooter, then you can’t really go wrong with Operation Flashpoint: Red River. Even those brought up on the bombastic offerings of recent times deserve to give this a try to see if they can enjoy something that requires much more than just an itchy trigger finger.
Red River is released April 21 and of course it’s available to pre-order from ShopTo on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC now.